Tuesday, April 29, 2008
a few hats
Maggie Gushue presented "The History of Hats," which was illustrated by a fashion show, in which models demonstrated changing hat styles from the 1700s until the present. Maggie talked about hats being functional, decorative, or flirtatious. While the earlier hats were big to shield women who worked outside for many hours from the detrimental effects of the sun, later hats became smaller and smaller until, at one point, they did not even cover the head. Hats were decorated with all sorts of additions, including ribbons, flowers, fruit, veils, feathers, and whole birds. The more elaborate of these hats weighed quite a bit. Other hats, which were too small to stay on the head, were held on with large hatpins, which were also excellent self-defense devices.
Hat fashions constantly changed over the years. Sometimes, the construction and wearing of hats resulted in strange side effects. The makers of felt hats used a great deal of arsenic when constructing the hats. The result of consuming that poison caused the hat makers to develop mental illness. Hence the phrase "mad as a hatter." The hats that were decorated with whole birds became so popular that the breed of bird used became endangered.
In recent years, however, hats have declined in popularity. Many people prefer to go hatless or to wear baseball caps. Since fashion tends to go in cycles, hats should eventually become popular again...